Weis Markets will close its store in Fredericksburg Shopping Center in September.
No date has been set yet, but the store’s 45 full- and part-time workers have been offered positions at other area stores.
The store is the third Weis Markets location to close in the Fredericksburg area since the Sunbury, Pa., grocery retailer bought 38 Food Lion supermarket locations in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware in 2016 from Delhaize Group, Food Lion’s parent company. The store at 736 Warrenton Road in Stafford County closed in November 2018, and the one in Breezewood Shopping Center in Spotsylvania County shuttered Feb. 13.
“We remain committed to Fredericksburg where we plan to remodel our other six stores and recently added our Weis2Go online ordering with curbside pickup,” Curtin said.
Jeffery Metzger, editor of the trade publication Food World, said he wasn’t shocked that Weis Markets is closing the Fredericksburg store because it has made little or no financial investment in any of its Virginia stores—or marketed them aggressively. Most of the stores also lack pharmacies and their deli, meat and bakery departments are “undersized” compared to those of their larger competitors such as Giant Food, Publix and Wegmans.
He added that the chain, like other grocers, is facing increasing competition from other retailers such as fast-growing Dollar General as well as online competitors including Amazon and Walmart.
Delhaize had to sell 13 of its 21 Food Lion stores in Virginia as part of the requirements to win the Federal Trade Commission’s approval for its merger with Royal Ahold, the parent company of Giant Foods. Metzger said Weis Markets originally intended to purchase just the 24 Food Lions that were mostly in Maryland and Delaware. It got a deal on the locations in Virginia mainly so Delhaize could divest itself of those stores.
“A lot of Weis’ success has come in small- and medium-size towns where they have a name recognition that is extremely high,” Metzger said. “Now we’re talking about areas where there is little or no name recognition, the cost was essentially gratis and I know from talking with the Weis people that they were going to take a wait and see on Virginia.”
He said that the company appears to have decided which of its Virginia stores are profitable and will pump money into them. Locally, it will have one store in Culpeper, three in Stafford and five in Spotsylvania after the Fredericksburg store closes.
Metzger said he doubts another grocery chain will open in that store’s place since the Fredericksburg area already has a plethora of places that sell groceries. Fredericksburg Shopping Center, for example, has a Family Dollar, and there’s a Giant Food less than a mile away in Eagle Village. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has given online grocery sales a significant boost.
He said there’s always a possibility Aldi or Lidl might consider operating a store in that space, although with a smaller footprint. Lidl is doing just that with the six Shoppers Food locations it acquired in the Washington metro area recently.
Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407
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